Ilkay Gundogan could make his first-team return after 10 months out when Manchester City host Liverpool this weekend.
The 26-year-old suffered damaged knee ligaments playing against Watford back in December last year, which brought a cruel end to his debut season at the Etihad, following his £20million move from Borussia Dortmund last summer.
Gundogan has put himself in the frame for the visit of his old manager Jurgen Klopp after suffering no reaction from a 60-minute run out last week for City’s Elite Development Squad against Leicester.
City’s doctors were so pleased with his showing they have given the Germany international midfielder a few days to rest and relax.
He has been pushing hard in the gym and played for 60 minutes in City’s Elite Development Squad match against Leicester last week.
The 26-year-old has even been given a few days off during the international break after delighting conditioning coaches with his progress.
An Etihad source said: “He is pushing hard for a first-team comeback. He’s played a few development games and friendlies.
“His progress has been great and the coaching staff are delighted. Pep will take a closer look at him this week.
“The medical staff will have a say, but he has fully recovered from his injury and it’s just down to his core fitness now.
Gundogan has rejoined the first team group and City boss Pep Guardiola will now take a closer look at his fitness in training on Thursday and Friday before making up his mind.
That could mean a place on the bench for the visit of Liverpool, although City’s medics will still have the final say.
Gundogan had settled quickly in Manchester, prior to his injury, and scored a memorable brace in the 3-1 Champions League victory over Barcelona last season.